Monday, January 6, 2014

Loss Of Winter Ice Linked To Colder Temperatures, Heavier Snows

Stick with me here...

We're getting to know all about the Polar Vortex - - Milwaukee was stuck at -13 degrees this morning, with a chill factor of -41 - - but a similar phenomenon happened last year and a leading scientist says it's appearing more often.

The event began exactly one year ago:

This phenomenon, known as a “sudden stratospheric warming event,” started on Jan. 6, but is something that is just beginning to have an effect on weather patterns across North America and Europe... 
Sudden stratospheric warming events take place in about half of all Northern Hemisphere winters, and they have been occurring with increasing frequency during the past decade, possibly related to the loss of Arctic sea ice due to global warming. Arctic sea ice declined to its smallest extent on record in September 2012.
I know, I know - - it all sounds contradictory and your conservative, climate-change denying friends radio talk show squawkers will mock it with closed minds from sealed studios, but here is the argument made by a leading scientist, and it's well worth considering:
“For reasons I don’t think we fully understand, the changes in the circulation that happen in the stratosphere [can] descend down all the way to the Earth’s surface,” said Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in Massachusetts.
As the polar stratosphere warms, high pressure builds over the Arctic, causing the polar jet stream to weaken. At the same time, the midlatitude jet stream strengthens, while also becoming wavier, with deeper troughs and ridges corresponding to more intense storms and high pressure areas. In fact, sudden stratospheric warming events even make so-called “blocked” weather patterns more likely to occur, which tilts the odds in favor of the development of winter storms in the U.S. and Europe.
Cohen was the lead author of a 2009 study that found that sudden stratospheric warming events are becoming more frequent, a trend that may be related to an increase in fall snow cover across Eurasia. The increase in snow cover has in turn been tied to the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, since the increase in open water in the fall means that there is more atmospheric moisture available to fall as rain or snow.
As temperatures rise faster in the Arctic than at lower latitudes, this changes large-scale temperature and pressure gradients - which has consequences for northern hemisphere winter weather.
Professor Charles Greene from Cornell University tells us:
"Global warming has increased the loss of summer sea ice in the Arctic, which has altered atmospheric conditions in a manner that stacks the deck in favor of more severe winter outbreaks".
The pressure change alters atmospheric circulations, including the jet stream - a stream of fast-flowing air in the atmosphere. It also makes the jet stream's path meander more, which allows cold Arctic air to reach further south, affecting the climate in the mid-latitudes.
Scientists are just beginning to understand the effect quicker Arctic sea ice melt could have on northern hemisphere climate. While it's difficult to attribute any particular event to effects of the changing Arctic, [Rutgers University] professor [Jennifer] Francis tells us:
"If the summer ice covers disappears sooner than climate models project, I would expect to see Arctic amplification intensify sooner, and the effects on the large-scale circulation would become more conspicuous."
These phenomena also reminded me of a 2012 study which found that the decline in Great Lakes winter ice - - as temperatures warm - - has led to greater water evaporation and thus to an increase in lake effect snow.

So maybe it's not so hard to understand after all. But understanding it is a good thing.


enoughalready said...

Charlie Sykes has no shame. To hear him tell it, the only people who are convinced that the science of global warming is settled science are "latte- sipping liberals." I suppose he means all those folks at National Geographic and the Vatican? Sorry, but I have no respect for Charlie, and am very sorry I bothered to tune in for a couple of minutes, to see what people were saying about our arctic-cold weather. There is no use trying to explain to folks like Charlie that the science of global warming actually predicts the kind of weather extremes we are seeing globally.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Not to mention those ivory-tower eggheads at the Pentagon.

Anonymous said...

It's called "weather".

"Global warming" was reinvented to "climate change". Now we have climate scientists getting stuck in the summer freeze of ice in Antarctica and the US getting blasted by a Arctic vortex.

Let's just all agree that some years are warmer and some are colder. That's called "the average". For us simple folks, we say, "What goes around, comes around."

enoughalready said...

Sorry, Anonymous, it is just not that simple. The evidence exists, for those who are interested. The science of global warming is sound, whether anyone likes it or not. Let's agree to listen to the scientists who know what they are talking about!

Anonymous said...

30 years ago, doctors said "let's all agree that some people fare well with surgery, and others get life threatening inflammations even though their incisions are not infected."

Actually, no, they didn't say that. Instead, doctors developed the surgical laser, which is used for some surgical incisions, and for almost all surgical cauterization before closing up.

The surgical laser is a CO2 laser, and the reason we have it today is that we have a very good understanding of the radiative properties of CO2. In fact, we've had a good idea of these for over 150 years at this point.

See, reality is what remains true when we close our eyes. The properties of CO2 are what they are whether we agree about them or not. And the relationship of CO2 to the climate is what it is, whether we agree about it or not.

You are lucky enough to live in the most powerful country in teh world because we have had people building this country who had the smarts to understand the world around them and the courage to face it. If you are too "simple" to understand these things, or too "simple" to face up to them, then do your patriotic duty and shut up.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Hah. Yet another ignoramus who confuses climate with weather.

enoughalready said...

To me, the people today who deny global warming -- who think it just the weather -- are exactly like the people long ago who refused to believe those in the know who proved the Earth is round, or those who proved the Earth revolves around the sun. The science is the science, whether we like it or not. Sorry, but global warming/climate change is not simply the weather!

Anonymous said...

You boys and girls keep up the debate. I'm going outside to start up my CO2 belching vehicle in minus 14 degree weather to hurry up the global warming process. It has to work because it's a fact.

Blame me next week.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

So maybe it's not so hard to understand after all. But understanding it is a good thing.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

You boys and girls keep up the debate.

It's not a debate.

But you prove, over and over again, your fundamental misunderstanding of how climate change is effected.

my CO2 belching vehicle

carbon monoxide. Further demonstrating your fundamental misunderstanding. Carbon dioxide is what you exhale. Otherwise known as balloon juice, which is what you say.

As was said up above, your misunderstandings and dismissals do not change the science. As Galileo said, "still - it moves".

Anonymous said...


You boys and girls keep up the debate. I'm going outside to start up my CO2 belching vehicle in minus 14 degree weather to hurry up the global warming process. It has to work because it's a fact. "

What debate? You deniers don't even know what a debate is. You think a debate is the exchange of playground taunts you have yet to outgrow,

Boxer said...

@ Anonymous January 7, 2014 at 5:35 AM:
You duct tape your lips to your exhaust pipe, breathe deeply for a few hours and write again in the morning.

While you're at it, lick some outdoor metal object.

See ya in spring!

Anonymous said...

Let's just all agree that some years are warmer and some are colder. That's called "the average".

True. Some years are colder and some are warmer.

But when you put these temperatures on a graph and connect these averages with a line, you find that the line is slanting upward. That's called "global warming" -- or "climate change," if you prefer that term.